How to get an entrepreneur visa for the UK

‘Whether you’re a budding entrepreneur, an established blue- chip firm or an investor looking for a new deal-flow, we can help,’ says London’s Tech City Investment Organisation (TCIO)

TCIO was established by UKTI with the specific aim of attracting entrepreneurs from around the world to the most exciting tech hub in Europe. Based in London’s East End, Tech City is a resounding success. Four months ago IBM announced that its Global Entrepreneur Programme was coming to Tech City and the likes of Amazon, Google and Cisco are also on board. Leading universities are likewise enjoying the buzz with Accelerator, London Metropolitan University’s digital media business incubator, already in place offering a plethora of enterprise and business support services to Tech City entrepreneurs.

By backing projects such as Tech City, the UK Government is keen to ensure that entrepreneurs from around the world regard the UK as a leading destination. The UK immigration system caters specifically for this group of sought-after individuals.

An overview of the UK’s immigration rules for entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurs planning to come to the UK to start a new business or invest in an existing enterprise can do so if they have:

  • access to at least £50,000 obtained from regulated venture capital firms or UK entrepreneurial seed funding competitions, or
  • at least £200,000 being their own or third parties funds, including from investors or family members.

Entrepreneur teams of two can qualify with each person being able to apply to come to the UK using the same investment funds.

Funds already invested in a UK business within the last 12 months qualify.

Maintenance and English language

Individuals must be able to demonstrate that in addition to the investment funds, they have enough money to support themselves. The authorities specify the precise amount which is currently around $4,795 for an individual who is applying from outside the UK.  Individuals who are not nationals of majority English speaking countries or who do not hold a degree that was taught in English must pass an English language test.

Route to settlement

Visas are issued for three years initially and can be extended for another two years providing the individual has invested the required funds into the business and created at least two full-time jobs for persons settled in the UK.  Settlement can be obtained after five years and British citizenship, which enables individuals to live and work in any European country, can be secured a year later.

Graduate entrepreneurs

The UK Government has also recently demonstrated its desire to ensure that entrepreneurial international students remain in the UK after graduation to establish new businesses. Sponsored by their university or business school, graduates with innovative business ideas may be able to apply for Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visas and full detail are at http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/visas-immigration/working/tier1/graduate-entrepreneur/

You should also check out the Sirius program for foreign entrepreneurs coming to the UK.

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